The time around Thanksgiving is maddening for college students. They are on the homeward stretch to finishing the semester, know which classes they stand borderline on a grade they do not want and are writing at all hours of the night to finish yet another paper to turn in the next day.
Some have jobs on campus, while some work off campus. I hear about so many students from my nephew, BJ, who is the Director for University College Programs & Communications at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
I have heard stories of heartache over students’ lives, some over the choices they have made, some over a crisis beyond their control. And he loves going to graduation, where he sits somewhat like a proud parent in the stands. He cheers for his PAL student who worked in the office three years earlier, but he has kept up with their lives.
The past few years, he has been UTA’s Scholarship Coordinator with The Terry Foundation.
Founded on the vision of Howard and Nancy Terry, the foundation provides scholarships to college students to help provide a much needed education to the future of Texas citizens.
From the website, “The legacy of the Howard and Nancy Terry lives on in the thousands of Scholars who bear their name and exemplify the four Terry Scholarship Program Pillars every day: Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Community.”
There are two scholarship programs (Freshmen and Transfer) that can be awarded for attendance to one of 13 Texas public universities. For 2018, 510 high school seniors competed for 238 available full scholarship awards, while transfer students competed for 84 available scholarships.
The selection criteria is based not only on academic achievement, but also on demonstrated leadership and financial need. The application must be obtained from the Texas public university of choice and includes two essay questions, and requires recommendation letters. If selected, the applicant interviews with the Terry Foundation.
The Terry Foundation scholarship recipients build a community atmosphere on their campus. They have monthly meetings, picnics, attend campus basketball games and raise money on campus from other students to buy toys at Christmas for kids in need.
WAIT – what?
These students, these Terry Scholars needed financial assistance to attend college. Many would not be able to attend without the assistance. Most did not grow up in the lap of luxury, while some know what it means to be without during the holidays.
This year they raised twice as much money as last year for the Arlington Police Department Toy Drive. All by asking for cash donations from other students.
The UTA students responded by opening up their pockets and giving over $2700.00 in cash donations.
Then the Terry Scholars had fun buying all the toys in Walmart– selecting what they thought kids would have fun with, what would be memorable to them, thinking about the kids they were buying for, but not knowing a one.
Laughter could be heard throughout the store as basketballs to Barbie’s were placed in one of the many carts.
The carts themselves took on the formation of a train as they chugged through the toy aisles. Lots of looks were thrown their way as the carts were overflowing with toys!
The Terry Scholars are required to maintain a 2.5 GPA, write an evaluation letter of themselves to the foundation at the semester’s end, and to participate in the Terry Foundation community. These are the type of students the Terry Foundation have selected – compassionate, involved and compelled to take action.
Generosity is the response to generosity.
I am impressed and proud of them. This is not a self-focused group of students. Because of these students, many children will receive a present for Christmas. In fact, these amazing students have been invited to hand out these toys alongside the Arlington Police Department.
Now that my friends is newsworthy!